Cranberry Cinnamon Clove Apple Chutney

Apples again! 2 weeks ago I went with my hiking club to Primrose River, Boyne Trail about 20 km north of Orangeville.

While everyone marvelled at the level 2 intermediate hike, I kept eying apples on the trees. Tiny, sometimes red, sometimes green, always pretty. They were also strewn on the trail. Yeah, luckily the farmers don’t care for these. They don’t even bother to spray said an experienced hiker. That’s all I needed. I loaded up on these tiny apples. Soon my backpack was full not with hiking gear but these delicious apples, I know they were delicious, coz’ of course I bit into one and ate it as a mid afternoon snack.

It took me a whole week of work to get around to making the apple chutney. I taught yoga on Toronto island last Saturday. The hostess loves my food so much :) she asked me to cook a meal along with teaching a yoga class. What better gift this time than apple chutney? I was planning to make poha, recipe here. Apple chutney would hit all the right notes as a perfect complement.

2 cups apples, gala or any tart apples
Spice Mix
2 inches cinnamon stick
½ cup dried cranberries
pinch cayenne pepper
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tbsp coconut oil
Salt to taste
2 cloves


• Wash & dry apples. As these were unsprayed apples, a light wash is all that’s needed.
• Remove seeds and slice and dice apples into small cubes.
• Heat oil in pan. Add cayenne and sauté. Quickly add cinnamon stick, cloves and then & cranberries to pan.
• Add salt and sugar and sauté till apples get soft.
• Serve with poha. This is the best combination. But if you don’t have the ingredients handy for poha, don’t worry. This chutney is great on so many things, picture it on some multigrain bread or with pakora.

When I ate these apples, I felt all bright & had a spring in my step. Organic apples (purely by accident) like this one I had to touch :) are the best.. 12002881_10156104196745253_4805023256517246756_n

I wish farmers would leave the apples be :) Yes, they don’t grow too big, but they pack such an amazing flavour punch. Besides I read that apples are routinely sprayed with a pesticide with a  possible link to Parkinson’s disease. I don’t go buy everything organic but this sort of impact on our health makes me pause & reflect. Shouldn’t we be concerned about what goes inside our bodies, and the long term impact of sprayed foods. I’ll leave you with one more picture of our magnificent nature hike.. 



Farmer’s market apple beet avocado chickpea sprouts salad


The best things in my life are the simplest, don’t you agree? Recently my friend invited me to her home in the country in Belleville, Ontario. Knowing how much of a nature lover I am, she took me to the farmer’s market. I feel in love with everything there. Ended up buying way too much produce  fresh Ontario beets, honey crisp apples, beans and much, much more!

Easy to prepare, easy on the eyes, easy on the belly, simple all around, this is summer food at its best. I made this salad to share with my fellow hiker friends on Sunday. They loved it so much that they asked me to make it again. Its a treat to share my vegan treats with non vegan friends. My friend loved the fresh and alive feeling she had when she ate this salad. It’s a total fact, our bodies don’t lie. I’m positive you will get the same fresh feeling when you eat this salad. It will invigorate you, energize you and make you come alive.

½ cup chickpeas, washed and soaked overnight
½ cup honey crisp apples, washed and cubed
½ cup beets boiled, peeled and cubed
1 avocado, peeled and cubed
Spice Mix
2 tbsp sunflower seeds
1 tsp fresh lime juice
1 hot green pepper
3 tbsp raisins
Salt to taste
Serves 4


•  Wash dry chickpeas thoroughly and soak in fresh water. Wash twice a day till chickpeas sprout. This might take a couple of days.
•  Boil beets and let cool. This is the easiest way to peel them. Cube beets and set aside
• Wash and cut apples into cubes.
•  Mix together cubed beets, apples, avocado and chickpea sprouts.
•  Stir in lime juice, hot green chili pepper, raisins, sunflower seeds and salt to taste.
•  Serve with Tostitos scoopers. Last minute plan. The salad was all packed for our hike and ready to go. But I felt it missed that special crunch. Multigrain crackers was just what was needed. Texted my friend and she brought the Tostitos scoops. Don’t worry if you don’t have those handy. This salad is good just by itself! Another hiker shared his roasted cashews which made a nice side for this salad. Yet another hiker took this pretty picture of the salad plate sitting on the forest floor..

p.s. everything in this salad is stained a beetroot red, even the chickpeas. but that’s what beets do, stain everything a pretty deep red colour..

I have a confession to make. I joined a facebook group that only allows people to talk about vegetarian recipes with no oil. Here’s how I plan to sneak my way around – avocado with its natural abundant oil. do you think the moderator will be ok with this recipe :)

Did you like this delicious farmer’s market salad? More importantly I want to hear from you after you make it. Tell me how you felt. I promise you a light and completely nourished feeling. Plus this is such a beautiful salad, you will never be able to say NO to it.


Mung dal puree for Iqaluit hunters and gatherers


‘You and I take vegetarian food for granted’, said my friend Connie.

She was sharing her experience while helping the native Inuit of Iqaluit. ‘They find the texture of lentils unfamiliar. Its not part of their culture. They are hunters and gatherers’, she said.

Connie is right. I’m fortunate I was raised in a country like India. Where Its super easy to prepare light, unprocessed, sustainable recipes. I could easily cook lentils 365 days of the year and not have to repeat a recipe. I really feel for new vegans. Especially those for whom a veg diet is not part of their food culture.


To help the people of Iqaluit, Connie has been fund raising for months. Iqaluit is a northern city closer to Greenland than it is to Ontario where I live.


With the funds raised, she bought them this industrial grade food processor to puree their lentils. She’s flown off to Iqualuit to hand this off. So their lentils will be more palatable to their hunter – gatherer state. Wow, look at the size of that..I’m surprised Connie can even hold it up!


I promised to write her an easy puree lentil recipe that they could blend in their soup kitchen as they transition from hunter-gatherer to farmer.

½ cup yellow mung beans

1 tbsp fresh ginger
1 tbsp fresh garlic
½ cup tomatoes
¼ cup onions
Spice mix
1 tbsp curry leaves or kaffir lime leaves
1 tsp fresh lemon/lime juice
1 big brown cardamom
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 tsp fresh cilantro
¼ tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp coconut oil
¼ tsp turmeric
Salt to taste
Pinch hing

• Wash mung beans thoroughly. Soak in 1 cup water and cook till soft.
• Chop onions, garlic and ginger and tomatoes. Set aside.
• Heat coconut oil in pan. Apsara tip – I’m excited & grateful to have a chance to introduce the hunter-gatherer inuit to vegan food.. I’m not sure what oils they have locally available so will leave choice of oil to them and to you. Coconut oil in my humble opinion is great. I believe its best not to judge choice of oil anyone wishes to use., but only point out what is healthy and best for body.
• Add cumin seeds, hing and then quickly add onions, garlic and ginger. Saute till cooked and soft.
• Add tomatoes and spices and let cook till soft.
• Add cooked mung beans and ½ cup water. Let come to boil.
• Take off stove. Puree the entire soup. Stir in lemon juice and fresh cilantro leaves.
• Serve with your choice of flatbread- indian chapati, or pita bread or any bread :)


Health benefits:
88eba384e7d9cefbMung beans are the healthiest beans going around. According to Ayurveda, indian system of health, the smaller the beans the easier to digest.


Look at Timbit in the kitchen. that’s a quiet cat. First time I’ve seen him stay so quiet. no take that back, he’s quite a zen cat :) look at him watching my yoga class..10952295_10204735306214695_1929285923377642519_n

Though the Iqualuit inspired this post, dear reader, anyone who is a new vegan or even a seasoned vegan can easily try my recipe. You will be sure to fall in love with it. Its foolproof and delicious beyond description.


Meatless Monday with mango nectarine salsa


Ever had a sluggish constitution?
Ever felt tired and bloated for hours or days after a big meal?
Ever wondered why you feel so lethargic hours after a big meal?
Then read on for one sure fire way to get your intestines moving along and keeping you healthy.

During teacher training, I learnt more about the benefits of fasting and a meatless diet. Our intestines can take anywhere between 4 hours to days to digest the heavy foods we eat. The problem becomes bigger if we stuff ourselves with food, without paying conscious attention to how much we really need versus how greedy we are.

From a yoga perspective, digestion is a downward activity. Yoga with its focus on energy has many types of energies depending on function. Digestion uses a downward energy called Apana which helps with elimination. Digestion takes up a lot of energy. A good healthy diet with exercise will focus on reducing energy spent on digesting food. A healthy body focusses on increases upward moving energy called Prana which is what we need for mental work. The heavier foods we eat, the harder it is for our mind to focus as more energy is being used towards digestion.


Mondays are meatless fasting days. I really missed my once-a-week fruit fasts while on my yoga teacher training. My excuse: its hard to get picky on a yoga camp.. eat what’s lovingly prepared is the best way. Plus there was a lot of learning to do. So really appreciated having the staff cook us meals & not worry about going fruit picking.

A meatless diet aids with digestion. It is one of the first principles of yoga called ahimsa or non-violence towards everyone, including animals, others & of course ourselves.
A meat eater friend of mine decided to try the Monday fast with great results. My coworkers tried it and loved it so much some of them now do it twice a week. Now before you faint and think it’s a complete fast, I have to let you know. It’s a fruit and nuts fast.. and you break it at sunset with a simple meal. Coffee and tea are allowed during the day, but you might want to try tea instead. In Delhi where I first learnt the Monday fast from my Punjabi coworkers, potatoes & sweet potatoes are also allowed :). Now how can you say no to this type of fast?

Here then is my mango nectarine salsa recipe to keep you lightly fueled during your Monday meatless fast.


½ cup cubed mango
½ cup white nectarines
1 tbsp chopped mint

• Wash mango and nectarines. Don’t you love this silver plate? I managed to get wuite a collection during my yoga training. Every time I would sing at the temple, the priest would come over and present me with a plate full of mangoes :)

• Slice mango all around in one go. This is a trick I learnt watching my cousin during summer holidays in Madras. She did such an elegant job that I have never peeled mango any other way since then.

• Cube the mango.
• Cube nectarines, being careful to cut away any fleshy fruit too close to the seed.
• Sprinkle chopped fresh mint. Serve fresh or cold.

Apsara tip – you can use any fruit combination for this salsa. But just ensure that the fruits have the same texture and that you cut them the same size (tip from my childhood bestie who gave me this recipe). Other than that this is a pretty easy going salsa.. Another tip from my aunt who makes an awesome fresh mango pickle(recipe another time)- don’t bother with salad dressings when you have fresh and juicy summer fruit. I take her advice to heart. This salsa doesn’t need much disguise other than a slight sprinkling of fresh mint leaves on top.

Health benefits:
• You will feel lighter, literally :)
• Your digestion will thank you for it
• You won’t have a gassy feel around your abdomen
• You will feel good about staying away from meat for one day in a week
• You will move old undigested food out of your gut..(that gets toxic when sitting around for a while and impacts your other organs).
• Most important you will feel a sense of brightness as your mind is now clear. Having taken away the pressure from your body system’s focus on digestion, your mind will be able to function in a calmer, clearer, focussed, more present way.

Hope you can join me next Monday for Meatless Monday fruit & nut fast. The benefits are huge, not only physically and mentally but also for the environment and treating animals gently-its just once a week and your mind, body & soul will love you for it.. Satisfaction guaranteed otherwise money back :)


Vegan shepherd’s pie with mango nectarine salsa for mild tastes


No more spice talk! I have a german guest. He’s been wonderful and open about trying new foods.. its only the 2nd time he’s had indian food in all his life. So I want to go a little easy in introducing a stranger to indian spices. Even though you & I know how good they are & how they elevate food to heaven level  Shhh. Its our little secret :)
He’s been very open to culinary experiences.

Asking for 2nd helpings of roasted carrot & peanut chutney to spread on top of steamed indian rice bread.

I wanted to make a gift.

Shepherd’s pie, said a voice in the back of my head.

You don’t know how and you’ve never made it before, said the same voice in the back of my head.

Ha! stop! After yoga teacher training I’m a bit smarter now. I won’t be fooled by this voice of instinct alone.

I made this equation up after a particularly intense learning about instinct in my recent Sivananda yoga teacher training.

Ok, time for the recipe… the whole point was to tell you, my intuition won. It said you’ve been cooking for so many years. Its almost as if you were a cook in your past life. You know how to break down complex recipes.. and make them easy to do. So with the kind support of intuition :) vegan shepherd’s pie was born. I want you dear reader to feel the same way about foods. Don’t hesitate to use another filling for this recipe If your heart asks for it. Listen to your heart!

kala channa – this recipe will make more than what you need.  use as much as you need & freeze the rest
½ cup whole wheat flour
2 tbsp coconut oil
Makes 8” shepherd’s pie

• Prepare kala channa – just leave out the cayenne pepper as this recipe is for mild taste buds.
With fork lightly mix in flour with coconut oil and enough water to make an elastic dough. I used about ¼ cup water for ½ cup Pillsbury whole wheat flour. Go slowly with the water for whatever brand of flour you decide to use. Don’t knead too much as you want the coconut oil to be a bit solid so that it spreads and melts during baking, giving the pie crust the right yummy texture.

• Roll out the dough on a flat surface with a rolling pin
• Spread parchment paper on 8” cast iron pan and pour kala channa on top. Spread it out.
• Place rolled dough on top and seal edges, fluting down.

• Make a few vents to let air out during baking
• Bake in 350 C oven for approx. 45 minutes or till crust is golden brown.
• Remove from oven. Let cool. Cut into wedges and serve with mango nectarine salsa (I’ll blog the recipe tomorrow as its late & my eyes keep closing :) updated recipe blogged just follow the link..


Apsara tip – the biggest part of this recipe is making the shepherd’s pie filling. Since I make everything from scratch and don’t use canned chickpeas, it just needs me to be a little bit more organized. But the end result – merveilleux !!! you simply can’t compare freshly prepared, no preservatives, no canned food with canned chickpeas. Since I wanted to serve the pie for dinner, I soaked the chickpeas in the morning, so that I could make the kala channa in the evening. See how simple it gets with a little bit of organizing.

Hope you liked this recipe just like my guest did. He got caught in the rain – we had a sudden rain storm in Toronto & since he’s an avid biker who’s biking across Ontario, he had to take shelter. He wasn’t really planning to eat this, but when he saw it he had to give it a try and was happy.


Would you like to be happy too :) then try vegan shepherd’s pie for mild Europeans & see what Happy really means.


Sweet Quebec strawberry yoghurt rice


Summer is here ! Hot and Humid! My favorite time of the year.

Time for something chilled and cold. Yogurt rice is a classical southern Indian dish that my family used to make almost daily in summer. Its so refreshing to beat the Delhi heat.

Toronto summer feels just like Delhi today. Last Sunday, on our drive back from the yoga camp, we spotted roadside farmer stalls selling Quebec strawberries. We did a quick U turn to stop and get some.


Having tasted these before I knew they are the best in the whole world :) tiny & flavorful. They fell out of the fridge today as I was prepping to make yoghurt rice. Naturally I sliced them & added them to cold yogurt rice. Perfect for a summer meal. Cool, refreshing, sweet & tangy with yogurt flavors, hope you enjoy this yogurt rice.

½ cup cooked brown rice
¼ cup diced strawberries
½ cup yoghurt
Spice Mix
½ tsp minced fresh ginger
½ tsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp curry leaves
Pinch hing
Salt to taste

• Wash rice thoroughly and boil in whatever technique you use. Just ensure that rice is well cooked, and soft. Set aside to cool.
• Mix in yogurt with rice and add salt. Add water so that the yogurt rice is a runny consistency like cake batter.20150730_194755
• Heat frying pan. Add coconut oil, then mustard seeds, when they splutter add ginger, curry leaves, and hing. Saute lightly.
• Pour spice mix on top of yogurt rice. Mix in well.
• Toss in strawberries.
• Best served chilled.

This yogurt rice was so yummy I ate everything, even the portion I had kept aside for tomorrow’s lunch.

Just warning you upfront so you can make extras. Quebec strawberries are absolutely the best for this dish. My French Canadian friends have spoilt me for life. They showed me where to find the best wild strawberries on our Wednesday & Sunday early morning walks at the yoga camp. But no worries if you are nowhere near Quebec. Ontario strawberries work just as great. Just pick smaller ones, which tend to be more flavorful.

p.s. If you want to go dairy free, you can make this dish  with coconut yogurt or almond yogurt or even soy yogurt !


Power up with Protein rich yard beans stir fry


Protein! That ever important ingredient. If you are a vegan, I’m sure you have spent a fair bit of time trying to get more protein in your diet. 

So how do the vast majority of Indians manage to get protein in food without going stir crazy, without reading food labels or without trying too hard and without relying on supplements? I’ll share my secret: take it in directly through food. Make green beans a staple.

As a kid I’d love these yard beans whenever my aunt made it for me. I seemed to intuitively know & trust innocently in my body’s intelligence. I’d happily take a bowl of these beans and have just that with a dollop of yoghurt. That’s all I needed to keep me going. It kept me full without being heavy. I imagine the yogis in the Himalayas eating similar fare so that they can fuel the body lightly to keep their mind clear.

Now as an adult, I learn that these foods are best for our body. Light and yet nutritious they fuel us up to keep going.


Eating heavy foods comes at a price. Our bodies take about 1-4 hours to digest food. The heavier the food, the longer they stay in our digestive tract. The longer they stay in our digestive tract, the less energy we have to do other things. Our whole body’s attention is turned towards digestion and there is very little energy left for mental activity or even performing physical activity. Ever felt a headache when you ate too much? this is why.

Last bonus point – these yard beans are really tasty, and they grow above soil so they get lots of direct energy from the sun that is life giving energy. Try more above ground vegetables in the summer, keep root vegetables for cool weather substance and warmth In cool weather.

2 cups loosely packed yard long beans, cut delicately Spice Garnish
1 tbsp grated coconut
½ tsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp curry leaves
2 dry red chilies
1 tsp urad dal
Pinch hing
Salt to taste

• Wash yard beans thoroughly. Then cut finely into delicate and small rings. The smaller you cut it the tastier these beans are.
• Steam the beans. I use a stainless steel collapsible steamer within a pressure cooker, but you can easily use a bamboo steamer or any other way to steam. Set aside beans when lightly crisp.
• Heat frying pan. Add coconut oil, then mustard seeds, when they splutter add urad dal, curry leaves, red chillies split in two and hing. Saute lightly.
• Toss the steamed yard beans in the pan, allow to coat with spice mix.
• Add salt. I’m addicted to Himalayan sea salt and would highly recommend that, even if its on the expensive side. You need very little and its good for you unlike the iodised table salt that’s full of chemicals.
• Stir in grated coconut and you’re done.
• See how easy that was. The biggest job here is cutting the yard beans.
• Serve with whole grain chapatis.


This simple yet delectable stir fry with yard beans is my personal favorite in the green bean kingdom. Actually, who am I kidding? I’ll happily eat any kind of green beans and there are several that I’ve tried thanks to growing up in New Delhi.

These beans keep you filled up in a healthy and light way, plus they are delicious when served with whole grain chapatti. Never made chapati before, then try this step by step post I wrote up.